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2017 Chevrolet Camaro Road Test and Review

Scott Oldham
by Scott Oldham
March 6, 2017
5 min. Reading Time
2017 Chevrolet Camaro exterior front angle on road ・  Photo by General Motors

2017 Chevrolet Camaro exterior front angle on road ・ Photo by General Motors

It’s as American as baseball, rock and roll and the hamburger. And it’s been around almost as long.

The first Chevrolet Camaro hit the main streets of America fifty years ago. It was return fire for Ford’s fast selling Mustang, which was introduced in 1964 and invented a new category of sexy, affordable performance cars that continues to this day.

Over those five decades, through oil embargos, disco, big hair, three wars and the digital age, the Camaro has been a fixture of attainable fun and automotive desirability for generations. And Camaros like the Z28, SS, IROC Z and ZL1 have become legends in the enthusiast world.

Now in its sixth generation, 2017 Chevy Camaro continues that legacy, offering affordable sex appeal and performance to the masses. Lets take a closer look this all-American dream machine.

Models and Pricing

The 2017 Chevrolet Camaro is offered in LT, SS and ZL1 models, and each is available as a coupe or a soft-top convertible. The base LT Coupe starts at $26,900, including destination. The convertible costs an additional $6,000 and comes with a power-operated roof that retracts in seconds.

Standard power on the LT is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that makes a heady 275 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. If you need more muscle, a large 3.6-liter V6 is available and we recommend the upgrade. It makes 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque.

The Camaro LT also comes with 18-inch wheels, power front seats and a rearview camera. The standard transmission with either engine is a 6-speed manual, but an 8-speed automatic is available. All Camaros are rear-wheel drive.

 Photo by General Motors

Photo by General Motors

More Models and Performance

If more power, performance, and image are what you crave, there’s the Camaro SS, which starts at $37,900. Under its aggressively scooped hood is a 6.2-liter V8 that the Camaro shares with Chevy’s Corvette. It cranks out 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque and makes the Camaro one of the quickest cars on the road.

Standard on the SS are 20-inch wheels, Brembo performance brakes and Driver Selector Mode, which allows the driver to tune the car’s performance for various driving conditions, Snow/Ice, Tour, Sport and Track.

The Camaro ZL1 is for those that need nuclear performance and style. It’s the fastest most powerful Camaro of all time, capable of accelerating from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds and it has a top speed over 200 mph. And it’s a performance bargain with a base price of $63,435 for the coupe. It’s powered by a 650 hp supercharged 6.2-liter V8 and is available with a standard 6-speed manual or an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission, which costs an additional $2,400.

 Photo by General Motors

Photo by General Motors

1LE and RS

If you want your Camaro to be just a little different than everyone else's, Chevy also offers a few packages that fly under the radar.

The first is the RS Appearance Package, which dates back to the very first Camaro in 1967. In 2017 it adds 20-inch wheels, HID headlamps and taillights, and an RS-specific upper and lower grille and rear spoiler.

Chevy first offered a 1LE performance package on the Camaro in the 1980s. In 2017 it cranks up the handling performance of an LT or SS model with a manual transmission by adding the SS model's brakes and suspension to an LT, or the ZL1 brakes and suspension to an SS. You can always tell a ILE Camaro from the curb by its distinctive matte black hood.

This year, Chevy is also offering a 50th Anniversary Edition Camaro. To the exterior, the package adds Nightfall Gray Metallic paint with a unique stripe and badges, unique 20-inch wheels, a new grille with satin chrome accents, a body-color front splitter, and orange brake calipers. Inside there’s unique black leather with suede inserts and orange stitching, and distinct 50th Anniversary treatments on the dash, seats and sill plates.

 Photo by General Motors

Photo by General Motors

Sexy on the Outside

Completely redesigned just last year, the 2017 Chevy Camaro is as modern and eye pleasing as ever. The design, with its aggressive wide stance and long hood/short deck proportions, draws from Camaros of the past, especially the ever-popular 1969 model.

Although similar to the Camaro’s fifth generation, which debuted in 2010, the new Camaro is a bit smaller and quite a bit lighter than that model. Chevy’s design team has done a wonderful job blending the new and old, while keeping the Camaro from being overly retro.

And people notice. Driving a Camaro, especially the more muscularly styled SS and ZL1 models, is an ego trip. You get a taste of celebrity. People look. Point. Sometimes they even take a picture with their phone. Remember to smile.

 Photo by General Motors

Photo by General Motors

Interior Pros and Cons

An all-new interior was also part of the Camaro's redesign just last year, and the new interior is one of the most likable parts of the car. It’s the best Camaro interior ever. It’s well appointed, nicely constructed, and looks cool. All the controls are well placed, and comfort is high for the front seat passengers.

Plus, all Camaros come standard with Wi-fi connectivity, Bluetooth, and a tilt and telescopic steering wheel.

Shortcomings are minor. The air conditioning vents are mounted low on the dash, which keeps them from getting air up to your face. Also, the rear seat is tight, even for average height adults, and visibility can be a challenge because of the car's low roof line and thick pillars.

 Photo by General Motors

Photo by General Motors

Surprising Fuel Economy

Although few people buy a car like this for its fuel economy, the Camaro is surprisingly fuel efficient considering its high levels of horsepower. And its economy numbers are strong for its class.

The LT with the turbocharged 4-cylinder is rated by the EPA at 20 mpg city and 30 mpg highway with the manual transmission. With the available automatic, those numbers jump to 22 mpg city and 31 mpg on the highway. With the more powerful 3.6-liter V6 and the automatic, the Camaro achieves 19 mpg city and 28 mpg on the highway.

SS models with the V8 drink more. With the automatic they’re rated 17 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, and 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway with the manual.

The top-dog 650 hp ZL1 is a thirsty beast. It's rated 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway with the manual, and just 12 mpg city and 20 mpg highway with the new 10-speed automatic. Did I mention it has 650 hp?

 Photo by General Motors

Photo by General Motors

How it Drives

It’s a head trip, man. That’s how I would describe the Camaro driving experience if we were back in the 1960s. If this were the 1970s, I’d say it’s far out. If it were the ‘80s, I’d call it bitchin’. This is a fun car to drive.

Days of uncomfortable Camaros are history. Today’s Camaro is as pleasant to be in as it is fast. And not just fast in a straight line like back in the old days. The 2017 Camaro handles as well as any performance car on the road, especially the SS, ILE and ZL1 models with their more aggressive suspensions and tires. But even those models ride well.

Braking performance is also strong, and the steering is quick and provides proper feel despite its electric power assist.

 Photo by General Motors

Photo by General Motors

The Competition

Head-on competitors for the Camaro include its longtime crosstown rival, the Ford Mustang, as well as the Dodge Challenger. But the more expensive Camaro models also compete for buyers with performance coupes from Europe, cars like the BMW 4 Series and M4 as well as the Audi S5 and Mercedes-Benz AMG43.

The Mustang is a worthy competitor and matches the Camaro in almost every way. The Challenger is also appealing, and it’s the only one of the three available with all-wheel drive. Plus, the top-of-the-line Challenger Hellcat packs 707 hp, even more than the Camaro ZL1. Dodge does not offer the Challenger as a convertible, however.

Although its European competition brings higher levels of refinement to the fight, the Camaros offer extreme amounts of performance and features for far less money. And the ZL1 can outrun all of them.

 Photo by FCA, GM, Ford

Photo by FCA, GM, Ford

Big Safety, Small Trunk

Every Camaro gets a new configurable safety system Chevy calls Teen Driver. It can prevent certain safety systems from being turned off and an in-vehicle report lets you in on your teen’s driving habits. Also standard are three months of OnStar, which includes automatic crash response. Rear parking assist, rear cross-traffic alert and a blind spot monitoring system are all available.

A folding rear seat for additional cargo volume is also standard, and that’s a good thing since the Camaro’s trunk measures just 9.1 cubic feet and space drops to 7.3 cubic feet on convertible models. The Mustang and Challenger have larger trunks.

 Photo by General Motors

Photo by General Motors

Final Thoughts

Packed with desirability, both inside and out, the sixth-generation Chevy Camaro is a front runner in the very competitive performance coupe and convertible segments. The Camaro delivers high levels of style, features and technology, and it’s bursting with a fun-to-drive personality that makes it something special. 

Although the base LT model, with the turbocharged 4-cylinder, is enough for most buyers, if you can, we recommend stepping up to the more powerful V6 or even the V8-powered SS. You’ll appreciate the additional performance and other desirable equipment. 

For those in the market for a sexy performance coupe or drop top, the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro is a solid overall choice.

 Photo by General Motors

Photo by General Motors


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